At the annual healthcare symposium sponsored by Rutgers Business School's Blanche and Irwin Lerner Center for the Study of Pharmaceutical Management Issues, many classroom lectures and lessons became a little more meaningful.
"We hear about the theory, the legislation, the big picture," said Michael Kwatkoski, an MBA student in the Pharmaceutical Management Program. "Something like this puts in all in practical perspective."
The April 30 symposium, "Global Challenges to Pharmaceutical Reimbursements," provided a big-picture, real-world look at the federal government's efforts to reduce healthcare costs while increasing access to medical care. Jonathan Blum, principal deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, gave the keynote address. Gail Wilensky, a senior fellow from Project Hope, also spoke about the Affordable Care Act.
In a panel discussion moderated by Richard Bagger, a senior vice president at Celgene, a trio of pharmaceutical executives shared their insights about how the new focus on pricing and affordability is impacting the industry's business model – namely the strategy of how companies decide what new medicines to spend time and money developing and taking to market.
The annual symposium is the Lerner Center's signature event, reinforcing its role as a source of thought leadership on issues impacting the pharmaceutical and healthcare businesses. This year's symposium attracted a crowd of more than 70 students, alumni, industry professionals, corporate supporters and media.
In his opening remarks, Professor Mahmud Hassan, the center's director, highlighted some of the strengths of the Rutgers MBA Pharmaceutical Management Program – including the high percentage of graduates who are employed by the industry after completing their MBAs – and how the program benefits from the presence of the 10-year-old Lerner Center.
Hassan said the goal of the symposium was to produce a "meaningful dialogue" relevant to the growth of the biopharmaceutical industry.
Kwatkoski, who is studying pharmaceutical management and marketing, sat through the three-hour event, absorbing the information and insights. "I enjoyed hearing the perspective of people who have worked in pharma for so many years," he said.
Javiar Rodriguez, a former pharmacist turned MBA student, also said the symposium enriched his studies with practical insights.
"These events bring the real world to us," Rodriguez said. "It validates what we're learning."